Jazz This Week: Branford Marsalis, Douglas Ewart, Charles "Bobo" Shaw, Mardra and Reggie Thomas, and More


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It looks to be a busy few days for live music in St. Louis, with plenty of events this weekend that will be of interest to fans of jazz and creative music. Let's go to the highlights:

Tonight, saxophonist Dave Stone and trumpeter Randy Holmes play the music of Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry in a free concert for Washington University's Jazz at Holmes series. Also, actress and singer Tyne Daly, accompanied by pianist and St. Louis native John McDaniel, continues her show for Cabaret St. Louis tonight through Saturday night at the Kranzberg Arts Center.

On Friday, saxophonist Branford Marsalis takes the stage at the Touhill Performing Arts Center. It's Marsalis' first trip to St. Louis in several years, and after playing here previously with Buckshot LeFunque and in a trio format, this time he' s bringing his quartet as they celebrate ten years of working together. For some video of the foursome in action, see this post.

That same evening, singer Mardra Thomas and pianist Reggie Thomas will resume their week-of-Valentine's-Day tradition of demonstrating both musical and marital harmony at Jazz at the Bistro. The Thomases will do the customary two sets on both Friday and Saturday, with an additional set at 8:30 p.m. Sunday especially for the holiday.

And speaking of singers performing on Friday night, that's also when the smooth, suave, yet swingin' Ron Wilkinson will perform at Robbie's House of Jazz. Wilkinson was a regular in the room in its previous incarnation as Cookie's Jazz and More, and the intimate scale of the space seems well-suited to his relatively subtle vocal approach.

On Saturday, there's a chance to hear two veterans of creative music who played significant roles in, respectively, St. Louis' Black Artists Group and Chicago's Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. In the afternoon, drummer and former BAG member Charles “Bobo" Shaw will perform his own music and that of Eric Dolphy downtown at the Metropolitan Gallery as part of the Nu-Art Series' “Re-Arrangements & Nu-Compositions" concert series.

Then Saturday evening, multi-instrumentalist Douglas Ewart will perform at Webster University Community Music School under the auspices of New Music Circle. For more about Ewart, who formerly served as president of the AACM but now is based in Minneapolis, see this video post from a few Saturdays ago.

(At this point, it seems like it also should be mentioned that this is Mardi Gras weekend here in St. Louis. As has been the case in recent years, there will be plenty of partying going on, but not much live music at the official events for fans of jazz or blues. Yes, the Funky Butt Brass Band and Gumbohead will be showing up in several places around town over the weekend, but the music for the two large events on Parade Day will be provided by rock cover bands and a DJ. I've pretty much said all I have to say about the local Mardi Gras music situation in the two posts linked above; if you're looking for more information about this year's Mardi Gras-related events in St. Louis, you'll find it here. )

On Sunday evening, singer, pianist and saxophonist Hugh “Peanuts" Whalum returns to Brandt's for a special Valentine's Day show. Given the room's modest capacity, reservations would seem to be advisable.

Looking past the weekend, on Monday saxophonist Paul DeMarinis and his Sextet will give a concert at Webster University's Winifred Moore Auditorium, performing some new DeMarinis compositions from his forthcoming CD, which reportedly is called The Sun...The Stars. Joining Demarinis for the concert will be singer Debby Lennon and a rhythm section made up of Nick Schlueter (piano), Dave Black (guitar), Ben Wheeler (bass) and Kyle Honeycutt (drums).

For more jazz-related events in St. Louis this weekend and beyond, please visit the St. Louis Jazz Notes Calendar, which can be found on the left sidebar of the site or by clicking here. You also can keep up with all the latest news by following St. Louis Jazz Notes on Twitter at http://twitter.com/StLJazzNotes or by becoming a “fan" of the StLJN Facebook page.

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This story appears courtesy of St. Louis Jazz Notes by Dean Minderman.
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